The Effects of Caffeine on Babies during Breastfeeding

Consuming excessive amounts of caffeine during pregnancy and lactation can have consequences and even negative effects on your baby. Limit the amount of caffeine you ingest during these time periods to prevent placing your child's health at risk.
The Effects of Caffeine on Babies during Breastfeeding

Last update: 05 March, 2018

Many mothers enjoy drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks throughout the day. But they may not be aware of the effects of caffeine on their babies.

During pregnancy, the excessive intake of caffeine is directly related to the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birthweight.

Once a baby is born, there are many myths related to the effects of caffeine on breastfed babies. When a mother begins the period of lactation, it’s normal to wonder what affects caffeine can have on her little one.

Although consuming caffeine is not prohibited, it’s important to know that caffeine can make its way to your baby’s breast milk. In fact, many experts recommend substituting caffeine with water or natural fruit juices.

The effects of caffeine on breastfed babies

Although specialists from the American Pediatric Association consider coffee to be safe during lactation, excessive consumption can have negative effects.

  1. Insomnia and other sleeping difficulties.
  2. Nervousness.
  3. Irritability.

“During lactation, a baby can take in between 7 and 10% of the caffeine consumed by the mother”

We should clarify as well that some babies are more senitive to caffeine than others. Therefore, the above mentioned effects can be stronger in some babies than in others.

Furthermore, it’s important to remember that caffeine remains in their system much longer, since they are not yet able to eliminate it.

The Effects of Caffeine on Babies during Breastfeeding

Studies on coffee and breastfeeding

Ina Santos of the Federal University of Pelotas, in Brazil, recently conducted a study on the effects of caffeine on 3-month-old babies.

The study was published by Pediatrics magazine and concluded that if mothers consumer a moderate amount of caffeine each day,  their child’s mood and sleep pattern will not be affected. 

To reach this conclusion, some 900 breastfeeding mothers were interviewed about their caffeine intake and quality of their babies’ sleep at 3 months.

All but one of the mothers claimed to consume caffeine during pregnancy. 14.3% of the mothers admitted to excessive caffeine ingestion while breastfeeding.

The investigators did not find a direct relationship between the consumption of caffeine and  sleeping issues among the babies in the study. They also provided evidence that the moderate consumption of caffeine during pregnancy and lactation is safe both for mother and baby.

“The excessive consumption of caffeine while breastfeeding can pass quickly to the mother’s milk”

How much coffee is okay to drink while breastfeeding?

According to studies, consuming 3-3.5 ounces of caffeine a day goes undetected in a mother’s breast milk. Experts recommend a maximum consumption of 10 ounces per day. 

The Effects of Caffeine on Babies during Breastfeeding

If a mother stays within these limits, her baby will not receive an amount of caffeine large enough to alter his mood or ability to sleep.

This is mainly true for coffee, but we should remember that other foods and beverages can also contain caffeineTherefore, we must always pay attention to the ingredients we eat and drink and keep track of any other sources of caffeine we consume as well.

A baby’s body is very delicate, and excessive caffeine can cause a great deal of damage. Take care of your own health and that of your baby by moderating your caffeine intake. 

Although it may be difficult, lactation doesn’t last forever. It may be a sacrifice, but your baby is worth it. He deserves it, and so much more.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.